The Vokes Memorial Gardens are on the south side of Canute Road, opposite Queen’s Park near Dock Gate 4.

This was the original site of the Platform cannons.

The original gardens were lost when road improvements were made and the story behind them is forgotten today.

The area was redeveloped in 2016 to create a sightseeing spot with flat grass and terraced steps so the departure berth of the Titanic can be seen without entering the docks.

A mention of Vokes Park in the minutes of the Council’s Public Lands Committee meeting in 1952 caused Alderman ‘Tommy’ Lewis to ask: “Where did the name come from?”

The mayor, Alderman E Burrow said: “I have lived in Southampton all my life and have never heard of this land called Vokes Park.”

Alderman W H Stone, Chairman of the Public Lands Committee, could only say that the land at the Platform was referred to as Vokes Park because the committee had been told that was its name!

The area was not even included in a list of Southampton City Council parks and gardens published in 1999.

Alderman Frederick Michael Vokes was the chairman of the Public Lands Committee from 1923 until his death in 1927, aged 83. He initiated many improvements to Southampton’s parks and open spaces such as new bowling greens, tennis courts and flower beds.

A native of King’s Worthy, Vokes ran a grocery business from the 1870s.

In the 1891 census he was living with his wife, nine children and mother-in-law in Leigh Road, Eastleigh.

He later lived at Sholing, developing a wonderful garden at his home, Birch Lawn in North East Road which was freely available to view.

Vokes was a leading figure in several horticultural societies, including Eastleigh, Southampton and Romsey as well as the Gardeners Association at Sholing. He often acted as a gardening judge and lectured widely on allotment gardening and food production.

On retirement, he became active in local affairs.

Vokes served from 1891 on the South Stoneham Board of Guardians and Rural District Council, of which he was later chairman, and also of the Itchen Urban District Council.

In 1899 his 17-year-old daughter Mellisa was lost with the sinking of the passenger ferry Stella during a crossing from Southampton to Guernsey.

Following Itchen’s incorporation into Southampton in 1920 he was elected to the Borough Council and made an Alderman in 1924.

He also served briefly as Sheriff in 1926 before dying in December 1927 and being interred at St Mary’s, Sholing.

In February 1930, the Sholing Amateur and Cottage Gardeners Mutual Improvement Association suggested that the land at the Platform should be called the Vokes Memorial Gardens due to its layout being at the instigation of the late Alderman.

It was also decided that an explanatory brass plate should be erected there with the wording: “This tablet was erected by interested friends to commemorate the laying out of these gardens under the direction of the late Alderman F M Vokes, the Chairman of the Public Lands Committee, and to perpetuate the memory of one whose whole life was devoted to the practice of Horticulture.”

The plaque was unveiled on Saturday, July 29, 1933 by Mr W J Collins, a builder, Methodist, philanthropist and father of Herbert Collins, the distinguished housing architect.

This original tablet was presumably a victim of World War II bombing.

The dual Gardens/Parks identity of what was previously called “the public gardens at The Platform” dates back to that day in July 1933, when the title “Voke’s Park” was first used.

In the Hampshire Advertiser its columnist Tom O’Wessex wrote: “It was a thoroughly good idea to associate the laying out of these pleasant gardens with the name of the man who first thought of the notion.

There are other reasons why we should remember the name Alderman Vokes with gratitude.

He helped many of us to understand the beauty of the garden and its possibilities and worked imaginatively for the town on these lines.

But the word “Park” doesn’t seem to fit. It presupposes a place of resort for the public and that strip of garden will never be like that.”

Martin Brisland is a tour guide with .